By Imprinting an Ornate Rug in Snow, Javier de Riba Draws Attention to Flora and Fauna Living in the Pyrenees
Catalan artist Javier de Riba (previously) once again collapses the boundaries between public and private, this time by adding a cozy intervention to a frigid environment. “Canal Roya” imprints a swath of fresh snow with the artist’s signature ornate motifs to mimic a rug-like covering on the frozen landscape.
Completed in early April, de Riba created the work near the proposed location of an 8-kilometer cable car connecting ski resorts in Astún and Formigal. The project, which drew criticism for its enormous price tag and disastrous environmental effects, would likely have displaced many of the animals, plants, and other organisms that inhabit that region in the Pyrenees. Thanks to pushback from activists, though, construction has since been halted.
Find more of de Riba’s ephemeral gathering spaces on Behance and Instagram.
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Dilapidated Mom-and-Pop Shops Stand Alone in the Scottish Highlands in New Paintings by Andrew McIntosh
In Dreamers, Andrew McIntosh simultaneously conveys the plight and resilience of small businesses, rendering lone shops and inns among desolate landscapes. The Scottish artist (previously) often taps into nostalgia and the forgotten, and he’s known for using the highlands of his childhood as a backdrop for his mysterious scenes in oil paint.
This new body of work, which is on view this month at James Freeman Gallery, pits the inhospitable landscape against the needs of commerce with a heavy dose of irony. A travel agency towers above a small island requiring a trip by boat to reach, a tanning salon glows amid a foggy forest, and a lawnmower repair shop stands amid an overgrown field. Often outfitting the buildings with flaking paint, neon signs, and graffiti, McIntosh positions each as a relic of a former era, positing that like the Romantic notions of a wild, untamable nature becoming outmoded, so is “the postwar idealism” of capitalism and enterprise.
If you’re in London, stop by the gallery to see Dreamers from May 18 to June 10. Otherwise, find more on Instagram.
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‘Drip! Drop! Slice!’ Bursts with Color and Texture Inside the You Are Beautiful Gallery
Oozing mounds, supple paper pods, and tightly coiled handles capture the vast range of color, texture, and shape within Drip! Drop! Slice! The first guest-curated exhibition at the You Are Beautiful Gallery and the project of Colossal’s founder and publisher Christopher Jobson, the show is vibrant and energetic as it brings several mediums and works by nine artists to the Chicago space. There are tufted tapestries by the anonymous Mz. Icar Collective, Brian Giniewski’s signature drippy pots, and a collection of wildly popular mugs from Lolly Lolly Ceramics, all of which exude the playful, optimistic tone of the You Are Beautiful message.
Find available pieces on the gallery’s site, and stop in to see the works in person through July 8.
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Layered and Embellished Trapunto Paintings Exude Spirit in Pacita Abad’s First Retrospective
Having created more than 5,000 paintings in her lifetime, traveled the world, and shown in over 200 exhibitions, Pacita Abad (1946-2004) was one of the most prolific and lauded Filipina-American artists. Now on view at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, her first retrospective showcases over 100 of her bold, distinctive works.
Abad was born in Basco, Batanes, the northernmost province of the Philippines. As her parents were politicians, the young artist initially had the aspirations of following in their diplomatic footsteps, and she avidly organized student demonstrations against the authoritarian Marcos regime, which eventually led to the political persecution of both Abad and her family. To escape this unrest and find security, her parents urged her to move overseas.
During what was initially a pit stop in California, Abad’s amazement with the unencumbered vibrancy and freedom of expression in San Francisco acted as a catalyst for her abundant life-long career. Informed by her experiences with despotism, political refuge, and immigration, Abad began to create work underscoring these disquietudes.
The years that followed involved travel, living in a number of different countries, and connecting with creative communities in every hemisphere. Abad was able to learn artistic techniques from different cultures and gather materials from diverse environments, which she would later incorporate into her own practice, especially her mask painting series.
Along the gallery’s pink walls at the Walker, hand-stitched meandering lines run across canvas hanging more than two meters high. Though it was not Abad’s intention for her art to be seen from both sides, viewers are able to experience her work in a more intimate way by observing the artist’s hand, evident from the delicate stitching on each backside. Part of her signature trapunto painting technique, these sewn sections of canvas puff up with padding as geometric patterns house vibrant areas of color. Calling to Africa’s masks and abstract carving, Tibet’s Thangka tapestries, and Italy’s trapunto techniques, Abad’s series of masks are a conglomeration of community encounters as well as real stories of strength and strife inspired by those that she met along the way.
Abad’s retrospective is on view at the Walker Art Center until September 3. Later this month, Tina Kim Gallery in New York will be showcasing Abad’s work in a solo exhibition, as well.
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‘One Hundred Famous Views of Edo’: Hiroshige’s Seminal Series of Woodblock Prints Gets a Vibrant Reprint
From the 17th through the 19th centuries, a genre of Japanese art called ukiyo-e—translating to “pictures of the floating world”—centered on colorful depictions of landscapes, performers and sumo wrestlers, and scenes from folklore and history in vivid woodblock prints. Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), one of the most renowned artists in the tradition—and one of the last—was famous for his chromatic vistas depicting recognizable features like blossoming cherry trees and the omnipresent snow-capped cone of Mount Fuji. His final project, an ambitious collection of 120 woodblock illustrations, became known as One Hundred Famous Views of Edo and depicts what is now Tokyo throughout the seasons.
A new reprint from Taschen pairs each of the artist’s remarkable prints with text by authors Lorenz Bichler and Melanie Trede, celebrating the scenery, the city’s history, and Hiroshige’s contribution to ukiyo-e. The authors highlight how the colorful depictions of the country helped define the Western world’s visual interpretation of Japan, referencing the influence of Japonisme on European decorative arts and painters like Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, and James McNeill Whistler. The new edition is presented in a case and bound in a traditional Japanese style known as stab binding in which a series of holes are punched in the cover and the spine is elegantly bound with string.
Scheduled for release next month, you can pre-order One Hundred Famous Views of Edo: The Complete Plates on Taschen’s website. You might also enjoy Hiroshige’s instructional shadow puppet prints and a look back at a recent exhibition focusing on landscapes in the Art Institute of Chicago’s ukiyo-e archive.
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Cuba and the Carnivalesque Take Center Stage in Kehinde Wiley’s New Portrait Series ‘HAVANA’
Amidst his signature verdant backdrops, Kehinde Wiley (previously) situates his subjects in the center of the composition, chins tilted up with regal gazes, enveloped in the grandeur of colorful patterns. The artist is known for monumental portraits in oil that reframe European painting traditions, especially referencing court portraiture in which royal or noble families—almost exclusively white—were portrayed in extravagant dress symbolizing wealth and power. Wiley flips the narrative by positioning historically marginalized Black and Brown figures front and center.
Wiley’s latest body of work titled HAVANA, on view now at Sean Kelly in New York, continues the artist’s interest in the cultures and traditions of the African diaspora. He draws on two separate visits to Cuba, first in 2015 and again in 2022, exploring the carnivalesque phenomenon in Western culture, which manifests in numerous colorful, celebratory events around the world, such as Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Wearing layers of vivid fabric and carrying juggling sticks or instruments, Wiley captures the individuality and creative focus of each person. He says:
The performers are each different—there’s so many different points of view, so many different life experiences, but one thing that unites them all is the very sense that America dominates the economic fortune of Cuba. The relationship between America and Cuba is one that has been fraught with a fascination, a suspicion, an intrigue, and a cultural weight.
Wiley references notable artists like Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, and Alexander Calder, who around the turn of the 20th century explored similar themes. Through portraits of acrobats, dancers, and musicians, Wiley examines the political history, economic hardship, and thirst for artistic freedom in Cuba, focusing on circuses and carnivals as sites of celebration, disruption, and self-expression.
On his first visit to Cuba, Wiley stopped by the Escuela Nacional de Circo, or the National Circus School, to learn about the history of the medium in the country and its national circus, Circuba. Prior to the Cuban Revolution, the nation was home to numerous family-run companies, but today, there is only one. During his second visit, he met with members of Raices Profundas, a group regarded as one of the world’s most authentic performing ensembles in the Yoruba tradition.
Like in many parts of the world, numerous cultural histories intersect in Cuba due to the period of European colonization, which resulted in the forced migration of Indigenous populations and centuries of enslavement of African peoples. Over time, circuses and elaborate street parties became “opportunities for the formerly enslaved to engage in moments of freedom and grace that were generally forbidden,” reads an exhibition statement. “The carnival, Mardi Gras, and street processions were events in which chaos could arise, love could be expressed, and a spiritual embrace of religious traditions could be manifest.”
HAVANA continues at Sean Kelly through June 17, which includes a three-channel film featuring some of the performers. See more from the artist on his website or Instagram, and you might also want to check out Big Chief Demond Melancon’s elaborately beaded Mardi Gras costumes.
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Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.